Awaiting Venice Biennale 2024: Matilde Sambo

We met Venice based artist Matilde Sambo in her studio at the Fondazione Bevilacqua - Atelier Palazzo Carminati. 
by Mara Sartore
Mara Sartore
Matilde Sambo

MS Tell us a little about your background, and how and when you ended up living and working in Venice?

MS My name is Matilde Sambo, my nickname Tide. I was born in Venice and I actually ran away after the three years of University and I ended up going to Milan. I stayed there for five years. After Milan I spent a bit of time in Naples but in the end, I understood that it wasn’t the right place to be for me. Two years go I also landed up to another Island, that is Sardinia, because of my Research. After these seven years rolling and going around, I needed a time and a place to be quiet and to process all the experiences and all the things that I had collected in my bag, that in a way it was full of things, so I ended up back here. I felt the need to make peace with my past here and I think coming back here is also a responsibility to the city. Right now i’m doing a residency here at Fondazione Bevilacqua – Atelier Palazzo Carminati.
Having the opportunity to work here was a sign that coming back here was the right choice.

MS What are the reoccurring themes or motifs in your work?

MS The human body and movement are the cornerstones of my work. At the beginning I worked with videos because I think movie images can create narratives and I was interested in the filming, but at the same time I had the necessity and the feeling that during my years away from Venice, to put myself in the movement, giving people the opportunity to see the work through different points of view. The relationship with the space, with the artwork and with the body of the viewer is a really important thing for me to research and to reflect on. Movement is transformation, movement is life.
There is always contrast in my works: violence and cure, tension and tenderness, fragililty and strenght.
I also work a lot with sound and writing, and now I’m creating works that put all my practices in relation to one another and activate all the senses, not just the eyes. Sound and the written word are columns around which I want to articulate narratives. It is just by continuing to work that it is possible to grow.

MS Describe an artwork in the studio…

MS I mostly work with chapters so for example these sculptures over here are part of a project called “Dormiveglia” and it’s based on three chapters;
right now I made the first two and Dormiveglia is a sort of combination in one single word (Dormi / Veglia). There is movement, but it’s inside the brain, so our senses are still open, our senses are still stimulated by the surroundings, but our body is still.

You have to imagine that this sculpture and others, even the glass ones, were hung from the ceiling and there was a flashing light that was creating a contrast in the eye – imagine your body surrounded by these sculptures that you don’t really understand what they are, you need to put yourself inside the space, you need to go really close to them, but even your eyes cannot catch everything in one moment.
You cannot take anything for granted, I think also this is a kind of way of working for me – it’s not a scientific way but there is a method and the method is based on the doubt; I think working with this kind of knowledge is something that I try and I want to put inside my work, because we have always to put ourselves in a different point of view.

Please describe your relationship to Venice and your new works?

Over the last year, I have created a bond with Murano and I will move there, to this little island of Venice, to work and live.
For my practice it’s really important to work close to artisans and knowing the know-how of a technique. Working in a glass factory was mind-blowing. Working with this new material is something that I have to explore, right now I’m working on the third chapter of “Dormiveglia” that for sure will be really into this material.
Using glass is a completely new way of handling things because even if metal has some kind of unpredictable sides, glass has more. Glass can create this relationship with space because space enters inside the works with the reflections and with all the textures of it.

Most of the people think that Venice is not a city in transformation, that it never changes, but I think it’s the opposite, it’s a transformation in itself.
In a way, it’s also like a continuous “Memento Mori”, but not in the way of seeing it as death but to living. Memento Mori I think is something that has to be a greed for life.

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